A slow-moving Hurricane Sally made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast Wednesday morning, threatening dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.
The storm hit Gulf Shores, Alabama, at approximately 6 a.m. as a Category 2 hurricane. As of 2 p.m., Tropical Storm Sally is moving northeast at 9 mph with winds up to 35 mph.
Forecasters say that the storm's speed, not its strength, puts communities in its path in jeopardy.
As of Wednesday morning, the storm is headed north-northwest at a dawdling 3 miles per hour, a pace that's likely to dump an incredible amount of rain over an extended period of time. The National Hurricane Center warns Sally could bring "historic life-threatening flash flooding."
The National Weather Service issued a flood emergency in areas from Tallahassee, Florida, to Mobile Bay, Alabama. Several tornado warnings were also issued.
Sally is also expected to generate an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge. Storm surge warnings have been issued from Port Fourchon in Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border.
Sally is the earliest "S" storm in recorded history, and this year's hurricane season is on pace to be the most active of all time.
Sally is just one of four named storms and seven active systems in the Atlantic storm basin. Paulette, Teddy, and Vicky are the others.
Hurricane Teddy is now a Category 2 hurricane and is projected to strengthen to a Category 3 storm Thursday and Category 4 Friday. Fortunately, Teddy is expected to stay out to sea.
Tropical Storm Vicky formed Monday west of the Cabo Verde Islands. It is not expected to cause a serious impact and will be short-lived.
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Out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Paulette has officially fizzled out to the ocean. The eye of Paulette moved over Bermuda on Monday morning.
A tropical wave off Africa's west coast has a 50% chance of development over the next 5 days. Another wave in the Gulf has a 20% chance of development in the same time period. A non-tropical wave over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean has a 20% chance of forming.
The next storm to become a tropical storm will be named Wilfred, the final name before moving on to the Greek alphabet.
Here's what happens if we run out of names.
The last time that happened was 2005, which is the current record holder for the most active hurricane season ever.